STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State (2-7) ends its regular season on Saturday as it plays host to the Missouri Tigers (5-4) at Davis Wade Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network Alternate.
The contest is being played two weeks later than originally scheduled due to COVID-19. Both teams have endured postponements and other challenges during this wild 2020 college football season.
Mississippi State and Missouri are meeting for the fourth time in history and just the second time as a Southeastern Conference matchup. This is Missouri’s first trip to Starkville, with the first meeting between the programs being played in Jackson, Mississippi. The teams last played in 2015, when the Bulldogs claimed a 31-13 victory in Columbia, Missouri.
MSU is coming off a 24-10 loss to Auburn, which is the third loss in a row for the Bulldogs and seventh in eight games. They managed just 240 yards of offense, including just 19 yards rushing.
The Bulldogs did play Auburn tough, though. MSU and Auburn traded nothing but field goals through the first three quarters of play. And after going behind 16-3, MSU managed to get within a score at 16-10 midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Bulldogs surrendered a 75-yard touchdown drive and 2-point conversion that sealed the outcome of the game.
Freshman quarterback Will Rogers has completed 199 of his 280 passes for 1,533 yards, seven TDs and six interceptions. Over the past four games, Rogers has completed 151 of 210 passes for 1,223 yards with six TDs and just two interceptions, both coming last week against Auburn.
Freshman wide receiver Jaden Walley leads MSU with 562 yards receiving and would be the first freshman to lead MSU in receiving yardage since Chad Bumphis (375) in 2009. He has broken Mardye McDole’s freshman record of 510 yards receiving set in 1977 and is just the second MSU freshman with a 500-yard season. Fifth-year senior WR Osirus Mitchell is second on the team with 458 yards receiving on 41 receptions.
The MSU defense is led by senior linebacker Erroll Thompson with 86 tackles. He became the 16th player in program history to record 300 career tackles on Saturday. He has 302 total tackles in his career, which ranks 12th among active players nationally. Sophomore linebacker Aaron Brule has recorded 62 tackles and leads the Bulldogs with 34 total pressures this year, which is third in the SEC and leads all FBS linebackers. He is also tied for the team lead with 31⁄2 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss.
Missouri is coming off a 49-14 loss to then-No. 12 Georgia. Missouri is looking for its sixth SEC win for just the third time since joining the SEC in 2012.
The Bulldogs rank fourth in the SEC and 28th nationally in allowing just 128.0 yards rushing per game. They’ll be tasked at stopping Missouri senior running back Larry Rountree III who has carried the ball 184 times for 851 yards rushing and 12 TDs. Seven of his 12 TDs this season have come in the past three games. His season has been rather inconsistent, though, as he has rushed for under 100 yards in five of his nine games.
Tigers redshirt freshman QB Connor Bazelak has completed 196 of his 286 passes for 2,141 yards and five touchdowns. He has done a good job at limiting his turnovers, throwing just three interceptions. The three interceptions tie him with Alabama’s Mac Jones for the second fewest (minimum 100 attempts) in the SEC behind Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond with two.
The Missouri defense is led by junior linebacker Nick Bolton with 88 tackles. Bolton was named as one of five finalists for the 36th annual Butkus Award®, which is presented annually to college football’s top linebacker.